2018 Annual Report
“Hi, I’m Danny. How are you?”
With these words, Youth Unlimited youth worker Danny Ferguson approached the girl sitting alone in her high school hallway, headphones plugged in to block out the sound of the bustling hallway and her intense feeling of isolation.
“My life was falling apart,” says Kaelynn. “I was sitting in a hallway by myself at school because I had no friends. I was probably the saddest teenager in the school that day.”
Thirteen-year old Kaelynn desperately needed support. Increasing instability at home due to her father’s alcoholism and parents’ tumultuous relationship left Kaelynn responsible for her younger siblings. This stress and the aftermath of sexual abuse propelled Kaelynn into a deep depression that left her vulnerable, hopeless and isolated.
“I hated myself,” she remembers. “I believed I was worthless, a complete waste of space. I wanted to fit in but I didn’t fit in anywhere, at school or at home.”
Depression had a grip on Kaelynn. She started physically hurting herself in an attempt to cope with mounting financial and emotional stresses at home and school.
Self-injury is an increasingly common coping mechanism for young Canadians and is particularly prevalent among girls, with the number of teen girls hospitalized due to self-injury increasing by 110% between 2010 and 2015. Though motivations for self-injury vary, teens can resort to hurting themselves when consumed by stress, mental health challenges and overwhelming feelings of worthlessness.
“You get to the point where you think you’re just not worth it,” says Kaelynn.
On that day over 10 years ago when Danny first introduced himself to Kaelynn, no one had asked her how she was doing for months and she desperately needed to hear that she was seen, loved and that her life had value.
Fortunately, Danny was there for Kaelynn when she most needed someone. Over countless hot chocolates and coffees, Kaelynn started to open up to Danny about her struggles at home and her depression.
“He really made me see that he sees me,” Kaelynn recalls.
Danny and Langley YU team were a significant support network to Kaelynn. When her father lost his job, they were able to help alleviated stress through practical support. Danny was also able to speak with Kaelynn about self-injury, letting her know that her life has value. And gradually, he introduced her to a community of faith and the love of Jesus.
At first Kaelynn was resistant to Jesus. Raised in a Mormon home, she’d rejected her family’s faith before entering high school and resisted anything to do with God. But over time, she started listening to God’s voice in her life. Miraculously, she started to experience deep, meaningful relief from her depression.
“It was dark, and then it was light,” Kaelynn remembers. “It was God for sure!”
Today, Kaelynn is a strong young woman whose resilience and courage is a testimony to the security she found through a mentoring relationship with Danny and her faith in Jesus. Sustained by faith and her YU community, Kaelynn overcame the stress of a teen pregnancy and defied the odds by graduating high school as a soon-to-be mother.
Now 24 and married, Kaelynn has four children, two of whom have special needs. Needless to say, life for Kaelynn isn’t easy; but today she is a very different person from the despairing 13-year-old crouched in the hallway, headphones on, sleeves pulled over her wrists to cover up her scars. She no longer walks alone and because of this, Kaelynn has hope that she can overcome any challenge that life throws her way.
Hockey Night: Take a Giant Step for Youth!
Join YU for the coolest game on earth! On February 23, Vancouver Giants hockey teams up with Youth Unlimited to help teens in our community. For every ticket purchased through YU, the Giants will donate $8 to YU’s transformative work with youth.
Come yourself, with a group, or contribute so YU youth can attend!
Friday, February 23, 2018 at 7:30PM
Langley Events Centre
7888 200th Street Langley, BC
One game = one GIANT step for youth!
Flooded to Renovated
In 2001 YU moved into its current main office space, taking it over from a repair shop. Since then, we’ve doubled in size, and the desperate need for space and a more suitable working environment has grown extensively.
Like with Noah, in mid-2017, a flood came that destroyed part of our space—but it also invited new life. Insurance money to repair the damaged was released and through specific funding from a donor, elbow grease from staff and the direction of an interior designer-turned-staff member, YU was able to retrofit the office for 2017, in a way more conducive to work, storage and invitational spaces. Through this generosity and hard work YU was provided with the equivalent of $30,000!
Charitable Receipts via Email
At the end of January, Youth Unlimited emailed their charitable receipts so be sure to check your email and spam folders to obtain your receipt records. Questions? Contact us at (604) 590-3759 or email@example.com
My grandfather recently passed away, he was 103 years old. I shared this with my neighbour the other day and he was quick to ask me his recipe for longevity. After some thought I identified three key ingredients:
1. Healthy relationships (loved God, his wife & others)
2. Good eating habits (heaps of borscht)
3. Daily exercise
Okay…I need to add a fourth. 4. Lots of laughter.
Now I realize there are few guarantees in this life. I could live a healthy, well-balanced, stress-free existence and get hit by a bus tomorrow, but if I stick with a few key things over a long time, my odds for a healthy life increase dramatically.
Take exercise for example. My grandfather was around 65 when he purchased his stationary bike. He set a goal to ride that bike every day and track his progress on the map of the world. Every day he would pedal and advance the pin anywhere from 30kms to 90 kms if an exciting Hockey Night in Canada game was on TV. In his 80’s he had already made it around the world. I was always impressed with how my Grandfather was consistent in this area. He stuck with it and it made all the difference.
Consistency and longevity are paramount in our Youth Unlimited work. Our goal is to build long-lasting mentorship relationships with youth, the kind that help young people connect with God who enables them to flourish in all areas of their life. We have a motto here at YU: people before programs. It’s a reminder to stay engaged with youth long after they have left our programs. It’s about long-term relationships and those don’t end when the lights at the drop-in centre are turned off, or a week of skateboard camp is over, or a young mom graduates from one of our programs. There is no aging-out for us—the relationship continues. It’s how we are meant to live and we believe this makes all the difference.
In this edition of Connections you will encounter a story where this long-term relationship was made possible through your continued commitment to prayer and financial support. Thank you for making it possible to walk with youth for the long-haul, giving them the opportunity to flourish in life.
With deep gratitude,